Filmmaker Game Plan: 3 Steps For Filmmaking Success

Another year is upon us.  And as a filmmaker, a few things happened over the last 365 days.

Either you:

1. Got closer to your filmmaking goals.
2. You changed your filmmaking goals.
3. Or you did nothing…

If you chose #3 (and did noting), don’t feel bad.


I’m speaking from experience.

Back when I decided to move to NYC, I waited at least three years longer than I should have.

I should have taken action.

When I finally did take action, I rode into town and vomited for two days straight.

I puked because I was afraid. I was scared I would fail.

This is a true story.

Once I got over my vomiting, I took action. I needed a job. So I made a lot of cold calls. I networked all over the place.

Things eventually worked out.

I promise things will work out for you too.

Filmmaker Game Plan

Here’s the deal…

You either know when you’re making your next movie, or you’re still saying “someday.”

All of those responses are OK.

But if you’re anything like me, you probably enjoy making things happen.

So assuming you need it, I’m here to give you the proverbial kick in the ass to get things moving.

Why Filmmakers Fail To Make Movies

Let’s be honest.

Sometimes it’s easier to kid ourselves. It’s easier to pretend we are making progress towards our filmmaking goals, even though the stuff we spend time doing often does nothing to get us closer.

One prime example is buying filmmaking equipment.

There are a lot of filmmakers who would rather fill their closet with additional gear than actually write or acquire a screenplay, find investors or devise a marketing plan.

It is easier NOT to create something.

It is easier NOT to go after your filmmaking goals.

Because, if you actually put yourself out there and find out you suck, what then?

. . .You will have to admit that you suck.

. . .And that your career in filmmaking is totally over.

. . .And you will NEVER make a living, making movies.

The voice. The one inside your head, filling you with negative thoughts is a liar.

So go ahead and punch that inner voice right smack in the mouth.

Here is your NEW, New Year mandate.

Give yourself permission to make sucky movies.

Give yourself permission to experiment and take action.

Answer These Filmmaking Questions

Take a few minutes to seriously answer these 5 questions:

1. What did you achieve last year? Did you make any movies or work on any projects? Did you write anything?

2. What sorts of filmmaking stuff did you want to achieve, but didn’t? What obstacles got in your way?

3. What do you want to accomplish in 2014?

4. What sorts of obstacles must you overcome to reach your filmmaking goals? How will you do this?

5. What is one thing you can complete today that will put you one step closer?

As a filmmaker, I assume your primary goal is to make movies.

But as you know, making a movie requires many steps. So to plan your next movie as well as some of the other big whoppers you wish to accomplish, I suggest breaking your goals into smaller and smaller chunks…

After that, break your small goals into something you can add to your list of daily tasks. Remember, big filmmaking goals always consist of smaller tasks.

And in case you’re looking for some New Year Filmmaking Ideas, here are some actions you can take today.

Your New Filmmaking Game Plan

1. Gain business intelligence. Read: Rich Dad Poor Dad and Think and Grow Rich and Never Eat Alone. Those books will help you network and speak the language that successful people understand.

2. Do short projects on the weekends and upload them to YouTube. They don’t have to be complex. Focus on projects you can shoot on your camera phone. But DO something!

3. Build a network of people who complement your skills. So you’re a writer? Surround yourself with a director and producer.

And if you’re looking for extra credit, access these resources.

1. Filmmaker Action Pack

2. Tom Malloy’s Film Finance Guide

3. How To Sell Your Movie

And my final piece of advice? Answer this question right now:

Given the resources that you have right now, what is the movie you can make this year?

Get out there, take action and make your movie now!

Modern Moviemaking FAQs

Modern Moviemaking: Frequently Asked Questions

If you are wondering about the future of filmmaking, I can tell you it is not Hollywood. It will be the gazillion filmmakers all over the world who take action, pick up a camera and make the movie they can make with the resources they have.

There are a lot of people fearful of this shift. And this is understandable. I am not one of them. Efficiency, lower production costs and advances in distribution may be new to Hollywood – But just about every other industry in the world has undergone these same paradigm shifts. Smart filmmakers find value in this change.

Here is why I love Modern Moviemaking!

1. Lets say I’m an aspiring filmmaker, living in a small town. Do I still need to move to Hollywood?

- No. In the past, production technology was cost prohibitive and getting distribution for your movie was nearly impossible without Hollywood connections. But these days the only thing an aspiring filmmaker needs is a good camera from the local electronics store and access to the Internet.

2. Describe the traditional middleman in independent filmmaking? Why don’t you need him anymore?

- In the old days as an indie filmmaker, even if you were lucky enough to make your movie, you still had to find a movie distributor so you could access the marketplace. But these days, thanks to Internet based platforms like Hulu, iTunes and Amazon – filmmakers no longer need a middleman to get their movies seen and selling.

3. What the heck is crowdfunding? And why do you suggest all filmmakers set up a crowdfunding campaign?

-  Crowdfunding allows you to reach out to your friends, family and social networks to spread awareness and raise money for your creative project. So let’s say you have an idea for a movie. You can now utilize one of the popular crowdfunding platforms like indiegogo or kickstarter and create crowdfunding campaign. And in exchange for money, you would offer your supporters with perks. A one-dollar donation might get a thank you note. A $500 dollar donation might allow you to play an extra in the movie.

4. What does it mean that film distribution is moving from a physical shelf to a virtual shelf?

- There are kids out there who have never stepped into a music store. And with the demise of big box video rental stores, we are entering into a new era where movies are only one download away. What we are experiencing in the movie world is very similar to what the music industry went through a few years back. It is probably scary for the big studios, but for the independents – this offers an amazing opportunity to make, market and sell movies.

5. What three things can aspiring filmmakers do today to get closer to making, marketing and selling a movie?

- All filmmakers should know their target audience, they should become very social media savvy and they should have access to their own audience list – because without an audience, filmmakers have no business

Happy Filmmaking!